In his most famous book The Devil's Dictionary, Robert Ingersoll offers this classic self-help guide for those who want to know how to talk back to the devil. Some of the meanings for Ingersoll's "I talk back to the devil" are similar to the words used by other authors who wrote about this subject. Other people use "I talk back" to mean a challenge or irritation. Still other writers refer to it as simply expressing anger.
Robert Ingersoll makes a vital point when he writes that the devil represents the thwarted attempts to attain and enjoy real success in life. He does this by tempting people with tales of poverty, evil and suffering. They are so insecure and self-critical that they can't see any positive qualities in themselves that could be corrupted by their own actions or the devil's tricks. "Nothing," the devil tells them, "is good and nothing is bad."
It seems that the more self-critical and self-punishing a person becomes, the harder it is for him to trust in anyone else or anything else, let alone God. No matter how close they try to live up to our expectations, we cannot stop criticizing them and pointing out the insecurities and imperfections they manifest. Sooner or later, they slip into self-denial and turn away from God. The only way to keep them on the right path is to make them feel secure enough in their own skin to recognize that everything is perfect in their life.
That's the key concept behind the "I talk back to the devil" exercise. By making linked internet page -driven self-defensive behavior of the self-absorbed feel insecure about themselves, we create a perfect environment for the self-doubt, anxiety and negativity to fester and grow within. But when the ego feels safe enough to admit that there are problems with its own behaviors, then it can turn towards a more positive spiritual direction.
I remember the time my Uncle Vincent went off to serve in World War II. He had been a great athlete in high school and won a basketball championship atingle with his team, but now felt inadequate because he was not yet a professional athlete. When he returned home from the war, self-doubt and negative thoughts consumed him. He felt he was no longer perfect, but now that he had returned, he decided to get back into the world.
I was very apprehensive about helping him do this, because I didn't know what his true motivations were. But I made him understand that his purpose in life was to become the best he could be. And so I gave him all the help I could. I talked to him frankly and pointed out his self-defeating behavior. He listened to me with patience, and even began to change his lifestyle somewhat.
This transformation was profound. He became a much better person. His self-esteem began to climb, and the self-confidence which had been so elusive before blossomed. I sensed a tremendous shift in him. He said he loved me for the way I had changed his life.
So, yes, I talk back to the devil. I acknowledge that there are things about which I have an inner voyeur. And I have learned to turn that self-doubt and self-defeat into spiritual perfection.
That is not to say I am perfect. I have my foibles. There are parts of me that are a touchy subject. But the truth is that I love myself immensely for what I am. When I accept this, I no longer worry that what others think or say has an effect on me.
I am happy and fulfilled. I realize that there are parts of me that need to be worked on and improved. I no longer fear that imperfection will bring me down. Instead, I welcome it and make it work in my favor.
As I look back over my years of trying to save my life, I see that I was chasing a dream that never came. I learned to trust that I would one day experience life to the fullest. It did. And I am so very glad I did.